SIFF Double Feature – Weiner and Resilience
Weiner: Holy crap is Anthony Weiner a dumbass. He’s also idealistic, brash, attention seeking, quick to anger, a great public speaker, politically motivated, and married to a very smart woman whom he just cannot seem to stop humiliating. To refresh your memory, Weiner was a seven-term U.S. representative until 2011, when his political career seemingly ended over a sexting scandal because he accidentally publically tweeted a picture of something in his pants. Denying it at first, he eventually owned up to sending the text. His wife, political staffer Huma Abedin, stayed with him, and supported his 2013 campaign for mayor of New York. Which also crashed and burned when it was revealed he had continued sending sexual texts to women long after his resignation from congress. He gave permission for documentary directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg to record what they thought would be his comeback story, but they ended up instead with a fascinating look at a guy who simply cannot stop sabotaging himself. He and Abedin let them film long after things went off the rails, and while it’s painful to watch, it also gives the viewer a better idea of what is motivating this guy.
Aside from some length issues that cause this film to drag at the end, Weiner is a great fly-on-the-wall look at both the political process and what happens when campaigns fall apart. Weiner seems like his heart is in the right place, but he just can’t seem to grasp the public nature of a politician’s private life. Sure his need for sexual attention might have nothing to do with his ability to serve, but you would have had to been asleep during the Clinton presidency to not know the public does indeed care about such things. Since Bill Clinton officiated at his wedding and Abedin works for Hillary Clinton, I’m pretty sure Weiner is familiar with the details. He comes off as an egoist with no impulse control, and this is only partially mitigated by the fact that he is really wiling to put himself out there for the causes and people he believes in. He wants to be seen as more than just a joke, which might be easier if he didn’t keep giving us another reason to repeat the punch line. Political junkies and gossip lovers will both find something to enjoy here.
Final Grade B+
Weiner plays at the SIFF Cinema Uptown on May 20th and 22nd
Resilience: I first became aware of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) test when trying to figure out how to deal with my awesome mystery autoimmune disease. (Not really that awesome unless you like arthritis and itching.) It basically covers 10 different possible events covering neglect, abuse, and family problems that could be considered traumatically stressful for children. Turns out, there is a lot of correlation between how high you score on this test and health outcomes later in life. And it’s not a good correlation. Children often do not have the skills and resources to deal with stress, causing all sorts of problems, behavioral and otherwise, down the line. The more adverse experiences you have as a child, the more likely you are to have depression, heart disease, cancer, and other unfun stuff as an adult. James Redford’s new documentary Resilience, explains the current theories behind ACE scores and shows some of the medical professionals using these findings to change how they treat the children in their care.
Even though I was already familiar with the ideas presented here, it was very interesting to see how different people are implementing change based on this information. The purpose of documentaries is to inform, entertain, and/or persuade, and this settled solidly in all three camps. The filmmakers did not present any ideas from anyone who thinks it’s all bunk, which would have been interesting to see. There really aren’t two sides to every issue (climate change, I am looking at you) but if the effects of adverse childhood experiences are so obvious, why isn’t everyone implementing the changes the doctors in the film are? (It all seems like common sense to me, but people say that all the time without having facts to back stuff up.) But the film was both moving and informative and I might have gotten a little weepy. It’s not very cinematic and kind of felt like a pretty decent episode of Frontline, which I happen to like a lot, so I am cool with that.
Final Grade: B+
Resilience plays May 21st at the SIFF Cinema Uptown and May 22nd at the Majestic Bay Cinemas.